“Don’t talk about it. Write.” – Ray Bradbury
Something that had been lingering in the back of my mind, became a fully formed realisation while I was out running. Maybe it was the soundtrack to Flashdance, or the lack of oxygen, but all these stray fragments I had in my head crashed together and made me realise what it was the universe was trying to tell me. I have tried my best to sit in a darkened room and be still, but it seems the closest I come to meditation is when I am moving fastest.
To begin with, I recognise the irony or perhaps hypocrisy of writing a blog post about not writing blog posts, but I don’t think it’s quite the same thing. The realisation that came to me was exactly that, I should be writing original fiction and not blog reviews on other people’s original fiction. At the very least, not on a regular basis.
The other morning I was watching one of those early daytime lifestyle shows that take the news and turn it into opinions. They had invited four vloggers into the studio to talk about how they felt about new laws that enforced them to be transparent when they are paid by companies. That wasn’t what gripped me. The bit that held my fascination was when the news presenter, condescendingly and with her head mock-empathically cocked to one side, asked what it took to be a vlogger. It turns out what it takes to be a vlogger is to wake up every morning, switch on your camera, and talk about things you like and don’t like, then edit it into some form of content, post it on an online channel, and market yourself as a brand until your follower list grows.
It made me think about how exhausting that part is, the marketing. I have issues with this “you are a brand” mentality we’ve all suddenly been stamped with, and how unappealing it is to be constantly online talking about this thing you wrote or starred in, endlessly trying to get celebrities and companies to retweet you. It made me realise how half-heartedly I had been doing, every time I started a comics blog, for example.
My own blogs, my own columns in online magazines, talking about life and travel and experiences are different to me somehow. With online magazines I have luckily (and sometimes not so luckily) had someone else to promote my content. With this blog, I quite frankly couldn’t care less if more than one person read it, it’s almost an online journal in which to gather my thoughts, although it is always heartening and lovely when someone does write to tell me they like (or even dislike) what I write.
I really couldn’t care less if Stan Lee, for example, knows a blog I have reviewing comic books exists. I couldn’t care less if I have 38 or 3800 followers on Twitter. Instagram exhausts me and I ran away from it screaming, somehow thinking I could be arty and failing in a world obsessed with selfies. Facebook is for close friends and family, people I have met in the flesh, as it were. I have learned to enjoy Twitter by staying away and learning not to cause arguments, promptly blocking anyone who tries to troll or cause trouble. Within the framework of respect, I enjoy the discussions, the links to articles and essays, the like-minded people who enjoy the things I do, and the quick 140 characters of thought I can dispense about things I do and do not like.
My comics-related blogs have never gone well. I have realised why. I don’t particularly enjoy reviewing comics, I think there are a thousand other blogs and websites that are far more committed. I don’t enjoy the endless posting of “I wrote this, check it out!” clogging everyone’s Twitter feed. I feel like I could put that time and energy to better use. I am in awe of people who blog and podcast and do so practically as a career, I just don’t feel it’s for me.
In many ways, I feel like I am always putting the cart before the horse, the marketing before the content. In a world where image is everyone and people constantly see themselves as a brand, I have come to the ridiculously simple conclusion that before I even attempt to think about myself as some kind of writer, I need to have put something down on paper.
So I’m off to write, and update this blog when the spirit moves me, more as a way of catharsis and journalling than as something I feel people should read as my work.
Wish me luck.